“The Christian Science Textbook: An Analysis of the Religious Authority of Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy.”
Weddle, David L. “The Christian Science Textbook: An Analysis of the Religious Authority of Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy.” The Harvard Theological Review 84, no. 3 (1991): 273–97.
Weddle claims that, to Christian Scientists, the authority of Science and Health and the Church Manual are based in a “wider context of the mythic vision of Christian history, shared by Eddy and her students in a community of interpretation” (275). That is, Mary Baker Eddy’s textbook and church founding are understood by her followers as a recovery or reenactment of the original Christian events. Christian Science was “the rebirth of moribund Christianity, a decisive return to the original and originating authority” (293). Eddy “considered her book to be the incarnation of Christ” (284) but denied that she was herself a personal second coming of Christ. The revelation in her book was the Comforter promised in the Gospel of John. Weddle asks the question, if Science and Health were dictated by a higher power, why did Eddy revise it over and over again? He explains that Eddy’s claim of divine authorship still required labor to express it clearly in human language. He interprets the tribulations of the church founding, codified in a set of bylaws in the Church Manual, as a recapitulation of early Christianity’s struggles with dissent and authority, which in early Christianity and in Eddy’s movement resulted in a hierarchical and authoritarian structure.
Print ISSN: 0017-8160